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Cultural Studies

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From Alienation to Autonomy

We can reach every point in the world but, more importantly, we can be reached from any point in the world. Privacy and its possibilities are abolished. Attention is under siege everywhere. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not the red desert, but a cognitive space overcharged with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times....
—from The Soul at Work

I like to stand with one leg on each side of the wall. Maybe this is a schizophrenic position, but none other seems to me real enough.
—Heiner Mueller, The German Issue

Alphabet City Magazine 14
Edited by John Knechtel

Water is the chemical matrix required for life, the molecular chain that connects all organisms on the planet. But in the twenty-first century, water may replace oil as the most prized of resources. Just as gas-guzzling SUVs use more than their share of fuel, water-guzzling regions threaten the water supply for the rest of the world. In Water, writers, scientists, architects, and artists consider the many aspects of water, at levels from the microscopic to the global, touching on subjects that range from new water infrastructures to ancient bathing rituals.

According to Peter Sloterdijk, the twentieth century started on a specific day and place: April 22, 1915, at Ypres in Northern France. That day, the German army used a chlorine gas meant to exterminate indiscriminately. Until then, war, as described by Clausewitz and practiced by Napoleon, involved attacking the adversary's vital function first. Using poison gas signaled the passage from classical war to terrorism. This terror from the air inaugurated an era in which the main idea was no longer to target the enemy's body, but their environment.

Virilio himself referred to his 1980 work The Aesthetics of Disappearance as a "juncture" in his thinking, one at which he brought his focus onto the logistics of perception—a logistics he would soon come to refer to as the "vision machine." If Speed and Politics established Virilio as the inaugural—and still consummate—theorist of "dromology" (the theory of speed and the society it defines), The Aesthetics of Disappearance introduced his understanding of "picnolepsy"—the epileptic state of consciousness produced

Paradox or Dialectic?

“What matters is not so much that Žižek is endorsing a demythologized, disenchanted Christianity without transcendence, as that he is offering in the end (despite what he sometimes claims) a heterodox version of Christian belief.”—John Milbank

"To put it even more bluntly, my claim is that it is Milbank who is effectively guilty of heterodoxy, ultimately of a regression to paganism: in my atheism, I am more Christian than Milbank.”—Slavoj Žižek

The Foundation of the Situationist International (June 1957–August 1960)

Yesterday, the police interrogated me at length about the journal and the Situationist organization. It was only a beginning. This is, I think, one of the principle threats that came up quickly during the discussion: the police want to regard the SI as an association in order to set about its dissolution in France. I protested, emphasizing that the artistic movement was never legally constituted by moral individuals in a declared association. Not being constituted, the SI cannot be officially dissolved, but they tried to intimidate us heavily. It seems they take us for gangsters!

Alphabet City Magazine 13
Edited by John Knechtel

How will the world work in the post-oil, post-coal future? Our transition could take the form of disastrous collapses in economic, political, and economic systems—or of a radical reinvention of energy. We could relapse into a new Dark Ages, or we could shift to a new economic model and international order that's not based on (the appropriately named) "fossil" fuels but on renewable energy. No matter what, global warming and resource scarcity will force us to do something.

The Dangers of Happiness

I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much—of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children's, I must change.

Why is pleasure "doubled" when it's "shared"? ... Do you really have to cut pleasure in two so that it'll exist? I mean, if it's doubled when there are two of you, then it must be tripled when there are three, quadrupled when there are four, centupled when there are a hundred, right? Is it O.K. for a hundred to share? And if I get used to trying it all alone, why is it that I'll never love anyone again? Is it that good alone and that awful with others?
—from Good Sex Illustrated

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